Theme/Style – California Modernism
Media – Oils, murals, lithographs, etchings
Artistic Focus – William Hesthal’s work on the Coit Tower murals was more three-dimensional than others in the Tower, a fact which he later ascribed to his youthful defiance of Diego Rivera’s authority; and its dark, somber use of color suggested that workers of the time had resigned themselves to waiting for better economic times. His frescoes in the Anne Bremer Library depict the relationship between artist and society, illustrating painting as both inspiration and commercial enterprise.
Career Highlights –
- A San Francisco native, William Hesthal began taking Saturday art classes at the California School of Fine Arts at age 9. A year later he exhibited his first painting at the San Francisco Art Association’s annual exhibition, and by the 1920s Hesthal was a member of San Francisco’s Modern Gallery and an accomplished painter.
- In 1934, Hesthal joined the other 25 artists selected to work on the Coit Tower murals, and one bas relief, sponsored by the Public Works of Art Project. His mural, Railroad and Shipping, sought to show the impact of New Deal programs on the nation’s struggling economy.
- Hesthal moved to Santa Barbara in 1942, where he became a curator at the Santa Barbara Museum. He taught art classes at Moorpark and Ventura Colleges in the 1960s and at the Santa Barbara Art Institute in the 1970s.
- Hesthal’s works are in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Art, the San Francisco Art Institute, Mills College and Tamalpais High School.
Bibliographic references are available upon request.